Fiedler Receives National Award For Lifetime Achievement

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: April 10, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Leslie Fiedler, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Samuel L. Clemens Professor of English at the University at Buffalo, recently received the Ivan Sandroff Award from The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) in recognition of his outstanding lifetime achievement in American arts and letters.

Founded in 1974, the NBCC comprises 580 book editors, critics and freelance reviewers who are invited to vote for initial nominees.

One of America's foremost literary critics and theorists, Fiedler is best known for his application of Jungian and Freudian concepts to U.S. literature and social thought. His controversial, disturbing and ingenious theories earned him an early reputation as a "bad-boy" of American letters.

His major work, "Love and Death in the American Novel" (1960), is an account of the way in which a large portion of American literature emphasizes the theme of escape from a female-dominated society manifested in close male relations in the wilderness and on the seas.

He has written more than two dozen books in which he has explored a broad range of topics and rebelled against high culture itself. The events of campus life in the mid '70s were discussed in "Being Busted," literary issues in "What Was Literature?" and "An End to Innocence," science fiction in "In Dreams Awake," the cultural roles of Freud and Jung in "Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self" and keen observations on Jewish identity in "Fiedler on the Roof," a popular and critically applauded collection of essays published in 1991.

A resident of Buffalo, Fiedler taught at Montana State University before coming to UB in 1964. He served as chair of UB's English department from 1974-77.

He also has taught during leaves at the universities of Bologna, Rome, Paris, Venice, Athens, Sussex, and Princeton, and held summer appointments at New York University, Columbia University and the universities of Vermont and Indiana.